Fund for children’s art therapy honours Sheffield woman

Joolz McLay.
Joolz McLay.
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A new fund to help children undergoing therapy to attend art clubs has been started in Sheffield in memory of an art therapist who died of cancer.

The Joolz McLay Fund has been set up by her partner Andy Booth to give youngsters getting help from the Sheffield Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service the chance to go to after-school and holiday arts clubs.

Mr Booth, of Nether Edge, put the fund together after Joolz died of a rare type of lung cancer, aged 45, in 2009.

He had the help of her former colleagues in the NHS as well as from local charity Zest, which is the charity managing the fund.

“Joolz was a very creative person and believed art was a nurturing thing in our lives. We were trying to do something that is very much what she would do,” said Mr Booth, aged 45.

“She believed wholeheartedly in the power of creativity to heal, strengthen and nourish our lives in very real terms, and this fund was created by her friends, family and colleagues in the NHS who knew and admired her.

“Joolz was such a well liked and admired figure in the service. Myself and her family were incredibly touched by the tributes paid by her colleagues, every one of whom she counted as a friend. Anyone who knew Joolz knew that she lived for art, creativity and helping those in trouble, and everyone I spoke to thought the idea of funding children in therapy to go to art clubs would be exactly the kind of thing Joolz may have come up with herself if she were still with us - which she is in spirit, and always will be.”

Former colleagues Susan Allaker and Amanda Platt have already begun fundraising for the charity, cycling the 120-mile first stage of the Tour De France in torrential rain, wind and hail, raising more than £900 to kickstart the fund.

Susan said: “There will be many families across Sheffield who will be extremely grateful to Joolz for her passion and dedication towards her work with young people. She was so committed to her work, and art therapy in Sheffield CAMHS would not be as successful if it wasn’t for her. This fund seems like the perfect way to remember her.”

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